CEO of Robbins Capital Management and former New York investment banker Bob Robbins gave a market forecast to the Chattanooga Civitan Club and predicted a moderate year for the United States economy. He said he expected growth of approximately six percent.
He said currently the country is in a super bull market, which is a period of three years or longer where the market goes up more than usual.
However, he warned that markets are most successful in countries with the highest amount of economic freedom and the United States has fallen behind countries such as Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada and Denmark in the past decades.
Economic freedom is defined as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. It means each individual is free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way he or she pleases. North Korea ranks last in the world, the speaker said.
He said countries with higher economic freedom have higher average income, higher life expectancy, higher literacy, and less corruption and political violence.
Mr. Robbins said government spending and regulations have weighed down the United States economy. He said, "It's crowding out private enterprise."
He told the members of the Civitan Club that, while government spending can temporarily boost the economy, it does not help it in the long term. He said government spending at any level - local, state, or federal - creates a lower GDP as it increased, and that "voluminous research shows that excessive government spending is harmful."
He also said states with a statewide income tax fared worse financially than states without it, with states using a progressive tax system faring the worst. He showed a map of states ranked by fiscal condition. California, Illinois, and Massachusetts were some of the worst while Tennessee was near the top.
He said, "The more progressive the state income tax, the more self-defeating it is. It slows their growth."
Mr. Robbins also said government welfare programs had provided a disincentive to work and help the economy grow. In 35 states, welfare pays more than minimum wage and in 13 states, it pays over $15 per hour.
Mr. Robbins answered questions after he gave his analysis. When asked about his favorite stocks to invest in, he suggested stocks in the financial sector. He said since they took such a hit during the recession, many are now going upward again. He also suggested stocks in the technology and healthcare sectors.
When asked about gold, he said he did not recommend investing in it because its value had already peaked. He also said he did not recommend investing in bitcoin.